Over 400 Air India pilots who have been on strike for 58 days have told the Delhi High court that they are are willing to return to work and those with valid licenses will begin flying aircraft at the earliest.
“Due to the intervention of the Delhi high court, the strike has been called off with immediate effect,” legal counsel for Air India told reporters outside the high court.
“The striking pilots will report to work in 48 hours. Those with valid licenses can fly while others will have to get them renewed,” he said.
The pilots also told Justice Reva Khetrapal through their counsel Geeta Luthra that they will join their duties in 48 hours by giving joining reports, whereas those pilots whose services were terminated during the strike would submit reports expressing their willingness to join the duty.
The pilots decided to call off their strike after AI management assured the court that it would consider the grievances of the pilots “sympathetically”.
“Serious efforts have been made to settle dispute and the counsel for the parties have assured the court that their respective clients will be extending full cooperation in this regard,” the court said.
“The senior counsel (Luthra) appearing for the pilots has said that her clients will immediately call of the strike and join their duties in 48 hours, by giving joining reports or the report expressing their willingness to join the duty,” it said.
“The AI management shall sympathetically consider the grievances of the pilots including the aspect of reinstatement of those pilots who were terminated as a consequence to their strike,” Justice Khetrapal said while disposing of the pilots’ plea for a direction to the management to take back the 101 sacked pilots, including the 10 office bearers of the Indian Pilots Guild.
The court in its order directed the pilots as well as the management to appear before the conciliator, Chief Labour Commissioner NK Prasad, on July 5 at 4.30pm.
The airline which had initially dismissed pilots, de-recognised the pilots union Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) and refused to relent to the pilots has said they will consider the cases of the pilots sympathetically.
The airline has been incurring heavy losses particularly on its international routes due to the strike.
Striking pilots at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar however, said that they had not received any official word that the strike was being called off.
The strike started on 8 May when pilot members of IPG went on mass sick leave, protesting the move to provide Boeing-787 Dreamliner training to pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines.
After putting forth an original list of 14 demands, the aviators are now asking for reinstatement of their 101 sacked colleagues.
The airline has maintained that pilots must first end their strike and the sacked pilots will be reinstated on a case-by-case basis.
The airline has suffered an estimated revenue losses of more than Rs 610 crore. A grounded fleet of Boeing 777s, unused manpower and absence from key routes have hit the airlines’ chances of a financial turnaround.
The strike has crippled Air India’s international operations, stranding thousands set to fly to East Asia and the Middle East.
The striking pilots started an indefinite hunger strike since 24 June. Nearly five of 11 fasting pilots have been hospitalised.
The current strike is the longest since Air India and Indian Airlines merged in 2007.